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Neglected for 70 years, Dera Baba Nanak sees ray of hope in Kartarpur corridor

Little less than 2 kilometres from the international border and nearly 7 kilometres from the Kartarpur gurdwara, the last resting place of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, Dera Baba Nanak has a main market and three small bazaars outside Gurdwara Darbar Sahib. But it is not able to meet needs of the clients from surrounding areas due to migration of many big traders.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2018 12:52 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Gurdaspur
kartarpur corridor,dera baba nanak,kartarpur corridor news
A devotee having a look at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur across the border at Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab. (HT Photo )

Neglected for 70 years after independence due to its location along the international border, Dera Baba Nanak is finally seeing a ray of hope of economic development in the visa-free corridor to be built from this historic town on the Indian side to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan.

Little less than 2 kilometres from the international border and nearly 7 kilometres from the Kartarpur gurdwara, the last resting place of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, Dera Baba Nanak stopped being a trading hub after the new border was drawn. The town has two historic gurdwaras — Gurdwara Darbar Sahib (also by the same name as the Kartarpur shrine) and Gurdwara Chola Sahib.

Though it has a main market and three small bazaars outside Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, it is not able to meet needs of the clients from surrounding areas due to migration of many big traders.

“Residents of surrounding villages prefer to visit Batala and Fatehgarh Churian towns for shopping. This affected the business here. With the announcement of the corridor, local traders are seeing a hope of revival,” says Gurkirpal Singh, a local resident.

“Even as there is uncertainty about alignment of the corridor, the real estate prices in the area have risen tenfold. Even big hoteliers from Delhi and Mumbai are ready to invest here,” he says.

Dera Baba Nanak municipal council president Perneet Singh Bedi says, “It was a large town before Partition. Keeping its population and business activity in mind, the British formed the municipal council in 1885. However, after 1947, many started migrating from here to big towns.”

“The 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars forced the locals to leave the place. Two floods and militancy added to the woes of those stayed back. This is perhaps the only Punjab town whose population has been going down. Presently, it has 6,400 residents,” he said.

As per the 2001 census, the population of the town was 7,500.

“With the corridor project, those who had migrated from here due to loss of trade may return. Those into real estate have started taking rounds of the revenue office to check the volume of land sale. But landowners are not planning yet to sell real estate as they are expecting price rise in near future,” he said.

“Once the corridor gets completed, the daily footfall of visitors to the town is likely to be in thousands. The pilgrims who come to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar will also visit Kartarpur,” says Perneet Bedi.

Punjab cooperation and jail minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, also local MLA, said, “Once the corridor opens, the hotel industry in the area will also witness a boom. The proposed infrastructural uplift will also make devotees stay here longer. It will help promote religious tourism.”

Amarjit Singh, a farmer and sarpanch of Sadhan Wali village near Dera Baba Nanak, said some people e approached local farmers, especially those whose land is situated along the passage up to the border.

Chaudhri Manan, an Amritsar-based hotelier and transporter who runs buses from Amritsar to Dera Baba Nanak, says his business will grow multifold with the corridor.

First Published: Nov 30, 2018 11:52 IST